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Gender and desertification: expanding roles for women to restore drylands

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Sunday 1 January 2006
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In many of the world's drylands, women's traditional knowledge of and roles in natural resource management and food security are crucial. Women across the developing world spend considerable proportions of their time using and preserving land for food and fuel production, and for generating income for their families and communities. They are therefore severely affected when erosion and diminished soil fertility result in decreased crop and livestock, productivity and reduced income derived from these products. Workloads and responsibilities increase significantly, particularly if men have left home or migrated. Women's already limited access to productive assets, including land, water and livestock further decreases, straining their abilities to assure the survival of their families. Because ownership and decision-making over land and livestock remains predominantly the domain of men, women are often excluded from participation in land conservation and development projects, and from the policymaking process. This review highlights the following strategic actions based on lessons learned through IFAD projects:? strengthen rural poor women's organisations? carry out capacity-building work to create enabling environments for women's participation? apply a gender sensitive approach, and promote the role of women

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